Meaning of Superstition – Stevie Wonder

When Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” topped the charts, Jeff Beck had every reason to be upset and even angry. The song about the negative influence of prejudice was originally written for him, but Stevie Wonder unexpectedly performed it first, making the song an international hit.

And when the release of Beck’s version took place, it was already just a cover that did not gain much popularity among listeners. Let’s try to figure out who is right and who is wrong in a complicated story.

Jeff Beck was already a well-known musician in the early seventies, but he didn’t feel bad about taking part in the recording of several tracks on Wonder’s Talking Book album. Let’s listen to the legendary virtuoso guitarist:

There was a time when I got pretty tired of my own music. It seems like someone at CBS asked me what I would like to do. I said I like Stevie’s stuff. They told him on occasion that I was interested in cooperation, and he readily responded. We agreed that he would write me a song, and in return I would play on his album – this is how “Superstition” appeared.

The Guitar Greats, Stuart Grundy, John Tobler

Jeff Beck recalled how the idea to write “Superstition” came about:

One day I was sitting at the drum set, which I like to play when no one is around, and beat this rhythm. Stevie, as if dancing, entered the studio: “Don’t stop” – “Come on, Stevie, I can’t play drums.” Then came this tune, “Superstition”. It was my song, in payment for “Talking Book”. I thought, “He’s giving me the riff of the century.”

Jeff Beck: Crazy Fingers, Annette Carson

But events developed according to a different scenario. Jeff talked about the further history of the song “Superstition”:

[Уандер], in fact, wrote it for me, but they say he really liked it. He played it in Motown, and they said, “Hell, Beck is getting this song – it’s too good.” And since they had the right to say that Stevie would release, I lost the song as the original.

The Guitar Greats

According to Wonder, there was a misunderstanding with Beck:

Motown decided they wanted to release Superstition. I said Jeff wanted it and they said I needed a great single for the album to be successful. I understand that Jeff will be releasing “Superstition” long before I finish my album. I delayed giving them the “Taking Book”. Jeff recorded “Superstition” in July, so I thought it would be released.

Not Fade Away, Ben Fong-Torres

However, Beck had problems with the band that delayed the release of his version of the song until the spring of 1973, when Beck, Bogert & Appice was released. Stevie beat him to half a year by releasing “Superstition” in October 1972. By that time, the composition had already topped the Billboard Hot 100 and climbed to number eleven in the British charts.

Although Jeff was offended by Stevie, the musicians managed to avoid a serious conflict. Wonder apologized and they continued their collaboration. Subsequently, they even performed “Superstition” together on stage. Let’s watch the music video.

Interesting Facts

  • The song was recorded at Electric Lady Studios, where Jimi Hendrix also recorded.
  • It was Stevie Wonder’s second track to top the US chart. The first was “Fingertips (Part 2)”.
  • Rolling Stone magazine included “Superstition” in their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list.

Superstation lyricsSuperstition LyricsVery superstitious, writings on the wall
Very superstitious, ladders bout’ to fall
Thirteen month old baby, broke the lookin’ glass
Seven years of bad luck, the good things in your past
Very superstitious, stairs ready to fall
A thirteen month old baby broke a mirror
Seven years of bad luck, all the good things are behind youChorus:
When you believe in things
That you don’t understand
Then you suffer
Superstition ain’t the way
When you believe
What do not you understand,
Then you suffer
Superstition is not an option Very superstitious, wash your face and hands
Rid me of the problem, do all that you can
Keep me in a daydream, keep me goin’ strong
You don’t want to save me, sad is my song
Get me out of trouble, do what you can
Let me dream more, give me more strength
You don’t want to save me, I’m bad at it ChorusVery superstitious, nothin’ more to say
Very superstitious, the devil’s on his way
Thirteen month old baby, broke the lookin’ glass
Seven years of bad luck, good things in your past
Very superstitious, the devil is on his way
A thirteen month old baby broke a mirror
Seven years of bad luck, all the good things are behind you Chorus Chorus

Song quote

It was the right decision, but, you know, we were devoured with giblets. We’d have a giant, giant hit.

Jeff Beck, The Guitar Greats

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